Born in 1942 in Hampshire, Cordery studied at Winchester School of Art and at the Royal Academy, London . He won the Young Contemporary Prize in 1965 and a John Moore prize in 1967. In 1966 he worked as an assistant to Edward Bawden on the huge mural in Britannic House, the BP-Shell headquarters. Between 1966 and ‘71 he was visiting lecturer at the Fine Arts Faculty of Manchester Polytechnic and subsequently taught at Berkshire College of Art.
During his artistic development, Cordery became interested in wildlife. He initially chose birds as his subject matter because he wanted to describe beautiful objects not because of ornithological interest. However, using birds as his subjects led Cordery to care deeply about their well being and conservation. He hopes that through his work he can encourage other people to take an interest in their survival. Cordery is especially interested in birds of prey.
Cordery begins work by selecting a location where he can closely study the birds. He then makes detailed drawings and colour studies, and takes many photographs to use as reference. He also collects feathers to use as an accurate colour guide. All these are taken to his studio where he produces the final image. Lithography is Cordery's preferred technique as this allows him to make detailed, life-like images.